A Newsletter Concerning the Genealogy of the
Southern New York Wolfes—compiled, edited and written mostly by

Michael Wolfe, P.O. Box 7356, Beverly Hills, CA 90212–7356 / / (310) 288-3621


Welcome, everyone, to the Southern New York Wolfe newsletter. I’ve been thinking about a newsletter for some time—because there’s a lot of information that can’t be crammed into a personal letter. . .and I’ve written a lot of letters. I think this format is a much better way of conveying information to you, and also a great way for y’all to participate.

This newsletter will be all about the family history of the "Southern New York Wolfes," or, more specifically, the descendants of Vincent Wolfe and Charlotte Driezler. This covers a wide and ever–expanding range of families and nationalities—German and Irish and perhaps English on Charlotte's side, and German, Scottish, Dutch and probably English on Vincent's. Right now my research is a bit lopsided, as I have not been able to find a lot of information about Charlotte's family. But I am optimistic.

Contributions will be gratefully accepted and announcements prominently displayed. Genealogy is built on information, and you have to provide it. For vital statistics, I’ve sent along a blank family group sheet. I’d appreciate it if you’d fill it out and return it to me. I will make sure your information is put in our genealogical database. If you’d like to contribute any anecdotal information in the record of our family, please do. Don’t put it off. . .you can write about anything to do with our family. A wedding. A baptism. A funeral. A vacation. A house you lived in. It’s your genealogy. Get involved.

I cannot say for certain when I will publish. I will try as often as possible, but please bear with me. There is a lot of material, and there are only so many hours in the day. I have to apologize in advance to my aunts and uncles, as parts of these articles may sometimes be lifted from the letters I have sent out over the past two years—but I think it's important to tell the whole story to everybody, so that means some repetition.

The latest breaking news—Frank Wolfe has made an astounding discovery: a photograph of the Susie Gedney, a steamboat tug that played a big role in our family history (see "Wake Up, Little Susie" below).

It all started when Frank went up to hobnob with some steamboat buffs at a "transportation festival" held in Kingston, NY. The steam aficionados at the Hudson River Maritime Museum directed him to a fellow who has a picture of the Susie. Frank is trading information with this chap and hopes to get his hands on a negative copy or laser scan soon, so we’ll be able to have quality copies. I had given up any hope of finding a picture of this boat, so this is tremendous news.

If you’d like a personalized printout of your family tree, please send me a 9x12 self–addressed manila envelope with 87¢ U.S. postage on it, and I will return one to you pronto.

I hope you enjoy the newsletter.

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Wake Up, Little Susie

By Michael and Frank Wolfe

For nearly a hundred years steamboats were the fast, affordable way to move people and goods on rivers like the Mississippi, the Missouri and, of course, the Hudson. The first steamboat in the world travelled the Hudson River, and for three generations Wolfe men were steamboat men. Fathers, sons, brothers and cousins plied their trade up and down the Hudson River. They worked on many different boats (glamorous passenger steamers and not–so–fabulous tugs and ferries), but one boat provided them with more financial security than any other: the fast little tugboat Susie Gedney.,

The granddaddy, so to speak, of our steamboat men was Anthony Wolf, who started his career working as a mate on sailing sloops such as the Bridgeport. He made the leap to steamboats, and moved up through the ranks until he became a pilot "who [knew] every crook and turn from Albany to New York." The last six seasons of his life were spent piloting the 167–foot Eagle on the Newburgh–Albany run.

Anthony’s two eldest sons, Andrew J. and William Winne, both followed their father into the trade as pilots. Being a steamboat pilot was a prestigious job, if Mark Twain is any indication: "When I was a boy, there was but one permanent ambition among my comrades in our village. . .that was, to be a steamboatman." It paid well, and provided Andrew and Winne with opportunities, like. . .building and owning their own boat.

On October 23, 1867 Andrew contracted the firm of J.R. Baldwin & Co. of New Baltimore, New York "for one Propellor Hull of the following dimensions, Length of Keel 53 ft., Breadth of Beem 13 ft., Depth of Hole 5½ ft., Length over all 62 ft. For the sum of Twenty Five Hundred Dollars." The very next day Andrew contracted the firm of Anthony S. McLaren of Albany N.Y. for "one 15 inch Cylinder Propeller Engine and all nesesary Iron work required on Boat and Enjine and the same to be foot in Boat in good running order for the sum of Twenty Five Hundred Dollars." Andrew (and his investors) were out $5,000.

But he wasn't done yet. The engine needed a source of power, and that same day Andrew contracted Messrs. Skinner & Arnold of Albany N.Y. for "one Steam Boiler of the following dimensions Viz. Shell 4½ ft. Dia–12 ft. long, furnace 3 ft. 11 in. long 2 ft. 8 in. high 3 ft. 9 in. wide with one 11 in. Flue and two 8 in. Flues in Furnace, and 40–3 in. Tubes 8 ft. long above the Furnace, Dome on said boiler to be 4 ft. high by 2½ ft. Dia–The boiler to be built of 5/16 in. Iron in shell and Furnace, and 40–3 in. Iron for the Tube sheets, Boiler to be capable of carrying 100 lbs. steam per cu. inch. One set Grate Bars, one Ash Pan one Heater and smoke Pipe, and the same to be delivered on Boat for the sum of Eighteen Hundred Dollars."

On April 1, 1868, Andrew and Winne stood on a pier in New Baltimore, puffed on "Segars" from a $5 box, and proudly regarded their new possession: the steam tug Susie Gedney, registration number 23756. The boat cost Andrew and his investors a total of $8,245.99 in 1868 money, but although launched on April Fool’s Day, it was no fool’s investment—Susie Gedney would bring the family a long and large return on their money. Andrew was 26 years old. Winne was 24.

We are not certain for whom the boat was named. You see, Andrew and Winne had an aunt named Susan Wolf, who married a local steamboat pilot named Samuel Gedney. Susan and Samuel had a child named Susie, so the boat could have been named for either the aunt or the cousin. . .Samuel had a colorful career and Andrew may have served under him on the Potomac River at the outbreak of the Civil War.

In any case, Susie Gedney was launched, and spent most of the early part of her career towing barges full of freight and people up and down the river. You could hire a tug to tow a barge from Coeymans to Hudson, NY (a distance of about ten miles) for $25 in 1868 (a big chunk of change in those days). City folks would go for "excursions" on the river in barges, and they'd need a tug to tow them to some distant picnic ground. She traveled extensively up and down the river from Albany to New York City, with many stops in towns like Hudson, Newburgh, Kingston and Poughkeepsie. The crew remained much the same throughout her career, with Andrew as Captain, Winne as Pilot and their cousin Barent Ten Eyck as Engineer.

When Andrew and Winne’s father Anthony suffered a stroke in 1875, it was the Susie Gedney that carried his sons and the village doctor up the river to Albany to his deathbed. It was short trip from Coeymans to Albany, but it must have seemed very long that day.

In May of 1880 Susie Gedney was two miles from Albany when she struck a rock which put an eight inch by eight inch hole through her starboard bow. The boat sank on Wednesday, was raised on Thursday, hauled to dry dock on Friday, patched and relaunched on Saturday. A boat that was not floating was not making money, and Susie Gedney was a work horse.

By 1884 she had gotten a bit tired, and was in need of rebuilding. This was accomplished in dry dock at Newburgh at a cost of $5,053.24. Considering that in the 16 years since her launch she had probably made that amount many times over, she was well worth the reinvestment. On May 21, 1884 her name was officially changed to just plain Susie. Some sources indicate that she may have had a second name change that same year, but the local newspaper still continues to refer to her as the Susie.

Andrew retired from work on the river in 1885, leaving the Susie in the hands of his brother Winne. Under Winne's captaincy, the Annie entered a new phase in her career: the Poughkeepsie Bridge Company. A railroad bridge had been thrown across the Hudson River at Poughkeepsie. This created a traffic hazard for the larger steamboats as they could not negotiate the abutments of the bridge by themselves. A tug had to be hired to move boats under the bridge at a civilized speed, and in 1886 the Susie was contracted for this work. She would continue at that job, as far as we know, for the rest of her career.

Working at the bridge meant that Susie had to be an all–weather boat; able to break ice. So in September of 1877 she was hauled up in Newburgh and fitted with a copper bottom. Now she was an icebreaker as well as a tug.

She had to have her stern rebuilt at a dry dock in Rondout in 1899, and we think that when she came out of that dry dock she had a new name: Annie, in honor of Andrew’s wife Annie M. Colvin. Since she had emerged from dry dock in 1884 with a new moniker, we suspect that May of 1899 is when she became Annie (although we have no official record). Also, Aunt Susan Wolf–Gedney had died a year before, and Uncle Sam Gedney died two days after Annie left dry dock. Perhaps Andrew felt the time was right for a change.

But even then, there's still a mystery about her name—we're not certain it was Annie. It could have been Anna. Annie (the person) is referred to as "Anna" in one or two places, and Andrew's and Winne's wills mention a boat named Annie and Anna. Was her name ever officially changed to Annie or Anna, and if so when and which?

In June of 1901 Andrew Wolfe died of stomach cancer and was mourned mightily in his hometown of Coeymans. His will said that he had an 8/9 interest in the tug boat Anna, and that his brother Winne was captain.

Here’s a story Ed Giddings (the unofficial town historian of Coeymans) tells about the boat: "In 1905, the captain was Winnie [sic] Wolfe, the engineer Barent Ten Eyck, and the assistant engineer and fireman was LeRoy Sherman. At this period Adelbert Robbins of Medway, younger brother of Sydney and William Robbins, was the cook. Adelbert often walked in his sleep and would not waken unless he struck some obstruction. One night while on watch, Mr. Sherman thought he heard a sound as if a door was clicking shut. Investigating, he saw Robbins with one foot over the rail and just about to fall in the river. He carefully pulled him back and led him to his bunk. The next day Sherman spoke to Robbins about the incident, Robbins remembered nothing. He then became frightened, said he could not swim a stroke and immediately packed his bag and left for home. Roy said that it was better to lose a good cook than the life of a good man as he surely could have drowned in the strong river currents."

Winne’s life drifted away from Coeymans in the early part of this century. Because of Annie’s work at the bridge, he began living in Poughkeepsie, as did his son Charles. Winne’s first wife Louise Applebee had died in 1893, and just before Christmas, 1904 Winne married Anna E. DuBois of Poughkeepsie. Charles was working on various boats himself—mostly ferries. He married Margaret Shields and in 1908 they had a son named Vincent. Although they probably stayed in touch with folks in Coeymans (like Charles’s brother Percy Wolfe, another steamboat pilot), they had less and less reason to go north—the steamboat business was dying (a victim of the railroad) and the ferryboat traffic drew pilots like Charles south, toward the city. That is how the Southern New York Wolfes wound up being Southern. That is why we’re from the Bronx.

In February, 1917, William Winne Wolfe died at the age of 73. His will said he had a 1/8 interest or share of the tug Annie. What happened to the Annie after that, we do not know. She was still useful, still towing and tugging. But after 1917 she disappears into the mist. . .

You’re More Dutch
Than You Thought

Some of you know I have been tracing the ancestry of my fourth great–grandmother Rebecca Mull. I had thought Rebecca was English, but then found that Mull was originally spelled Mol, and is Dutch.

Rebecca was a puzzle for the longest time. I couldn't find anything specific about her. I knew the Mull family were numerous, and I hoped someone may have compiled a genealogy of them, so I wrote to the Bethlehem Historical Society, and they were no help whatsoever. As a matter of fact, they didn't even write back.

Not too discouraged, I decided to do some cold-calling. I called up information in the 518 area code, and asked for any Mulls. On my first call I spoke with a lady who was good enough to point me toward Gloria Mull–Philp, and Gloria informed me that a cousin of hers named Millard had made a genealogy which she had a copy of. She didn’t think it would "be much help," but she would send it along. "Not much help." I wish every lead turned out this bad! It was a 13–page genealogy compiled by Millard and a professional genealogist named Lauretta Harris, and there was Rebecca on page 4.

Rebecca’s heritage is almost entirely Dutch, as the Dutch were rather clannish. Rebecca herself was the first person in her line to marry someone of a nationality other than Dutch. The Dutch had lost their colony to the English, viewed English–speaking colonists with suspicion and referred to New Englanders as "those damn Yankees."

New Netherland was Dutch from its founding in 1621 until the English took over in 1664. The two main settlements were the tip of Manhattan and Albany. At that time Albany was called Fort Orange, and its population was approximately 1,500 people in 1647 (it grew to 10,000 people by 1664). Most folks were farmers, or engaged in work relating to agriculture (grist mills, carpentry, etc.). There was the settlement of Fort Orange itself, and then there were the farms scattered around it—many people settled up and down the river (which gave them easy access to trade). Most of the land surrounding Fort Orange was granted by royal patent to Killian Van Rennselaer, who was called the patroon (a sort of lord of the manor—he never even set foot in the New World). For the royal favor of receiving this gigantic tract of land, Van Rennselaer was expected to settle it by leasing it to tenant farmers and indentured servants and developing the area by building mills and clearing land. The Van Rennselaers held this land for a long, long time (the British let them keep the title), and many of our ancestors did business with them (the Mulls, the Schermerhorns—even as late as 1790 the Henrys were renting land from the Van Rennselaers). Van Rennselaer's land was divided into two areas: Rennselaerwyck on the west side of the Hudson, and Beverwyck on the east side.

The Dutch traded with the Indians (the Iroquois and the Mohicans, among others). The Indians had fur; the Dutch had gunpowder and various other goodies. Our ancestor Jacob Janse Schermerhorn (1622–1688) got into a scrape with the Governor of New Amsterdam (Peter Stuyvesant). There was a law on the books against trading arms for furs with the Indians. Stuyvesant had Schermerhorn arrested and charged with breaking this law, but the case was thrown out of court because the law was a joke—everybody was selling arms to the Indians, including Stuyvesant, and it was rumored that the reason the Governor had Jacob arrested was because he was cutting in on Stuyvesant's business.

The Indians and Dutch fought with each other quite a bit—wars and massacres broke out with regularity. One of the worst was in Schenectady, where one night in February, 1690, the Indians burned the town and slaughtered the inhabitants. Symon Jacobse Schermerhorn, an uncle of ours, was wounded in the thigh, but managed to get on a horse and ride to Albany, where he was the first to deliver the bad news. This fighting continued up through the Revolutionary War, with the Iroquois siding with the British—Elizabeth Henry, wife of James Selkirk, told her nephew stories of how her family had moved all over Rennselaerwyck before settling in Bethlehem because they were afraid of the Indians.

The Mulls belonged to a group of settlers who lived in Beverwyck, in a place across the river from Coeymans which still bears the name Schodack—a Dutch corruption of the Mohican name "Esquatack" for "fire place of the nation," so called because the Mohicans were said to meet there under the leadership of their great chief Uncas. It’s also said that this is the spot where Henry Hudson landed on his voyage up the river, which he declared to be the finest farmland he had ever set foot upon. Our ancestors the Mulls, Schermerhorns, Barheits and Ten Eycks were among the earliest settlers of that area.

There is no record of the Mulls journeying from Holland, but they start to show up in the records of the New World about 1703, when Jacobus Mol married Lydia Winne[n]. I suppose Jacobus and Lydia may have followed the pattern of many settlers, that is, bouncing back and forth between Fort Orang and New Amsterdam, then finally settling in the area of Fort Orange. Sometime in the early part of the 1700s they wound up in Schodack, and the whole Mull clan comes from that beginning.

The story of the Schermerhorns is an epic saga which will take up space in other newsletters. Simply put, a fellow named Jacob Janse (from a small town north of Amsterdam named Schermerhorn) came to New Netherland around 1636. He went to work for the Van Rennselaers as a carpenter, dabbled in fur trading [see above], and after some time managed to make himself a fortune. When he died in 1688 he was worth approximately $25,000—a rags to riches story. It is from he and his wife Jannetje Segerse Van Voorhoudt [Egmont] (try saying that three times fast) that all the Schermerhorns in North America are descended. Their son Jacob Jacobse inherited their farm in Schodack, and it along that branch of the family, the "Schodack Branch," that we are descended.

I’m afraid there is not a lot of information about the Barheits. "Barheit" means "boar's head," so it’s possible someone in the swine business. It’s certainly a safe bet they were farmers.

Coenraedt Ten Eyck came from Amsterdam with his wife Maria Boele and two or three children around 1650. At first they lived in New Amsterdam. In 1660 Coenraedt was assessed for taxes on a lot of land on the west side of what is now Broad Street in downtown Manhattan. A canal was being dug along Broad Street, and anyone owning property along it had to help pay for it; in Coenraedt’s case, forty guilders, or $16. This canal, which ran from the harbor to a swamp in back of Wall Street, was a bust, and soon ordered to be filled and paved. "Ten Eyck" means "tanning oak," which makes a lot of sense as Coenraad was a tanner and shoemaker. Somehow he and his family ended up in the Fort Orange area. . .

Another interesting clan along these lines is the Coeymans family. I’ll have more about them in a future issue.

There is something else you should know about these families, and that is that they bred rather closely. With so few people on the frontier it was difficult to find a suitable marriage partner, so first cousin marriages were common. My seventh great–grandparents Reyer Schermerhorn and Geertje Ten Eyck were first cousins. More recently, William Winne Wolfe and his wife Louise Applebee were cousins. Louise's mother was a Schermerhorn, and Winne was descended from two lines of Schermerhorns, so they were probably second or third cousins. Those Schermerhorns sure got around.

As I’ve said before, there is an endless supply of material on the Dutch families, so there will be more. . .

Peter Wolf's
Pension Application

Our ancestor Teunis Wolf had an elder brother named Peter, who served in the Kinderhook, NY militia during the American Revolution. Years later, when he was 73 years old, he applied for a military pension. What follows is his main application, plus two depositions from his brother John and his sister–in–law Catherine Wolfrom (Teunis's wife), respectively, in support of his application. Our cousin Walter Dietz tells me that Peter was turned down for the pension because the only people who supported his claim were friends and relatives—he had survived all his fellow veterans. . .

State of New York
Greene County SS

On this thirty first day of August 1832 personally appeared before me Dorrance Kirtland first Judge of the court of Common Pleas of the County of Greene in the State of New York (the said Court being a court of record) Peter Wolf aged about seventy three years a resident of the town of New Baltimore in the County of Greene and State of New York, who being first duly sworn according to Law, doth on his oath make the following declaration in order to obtain the benefits of the Act of Congress passed June 7th 1832.

That he was born in Livingston’s Manor in the County of Columbia in the State of New York some time in the year 1759 as he believes from what he has always understood to be his age, but he does not know that any record of his age was ever made. That when a child he removed from Livingston’s Manor to the town of Kinderhook until two or three years after the war, when he removed to the present town of New Baltimore in the County of Greene and has resided there ever since.

That in the same fall in which Burgoyne surrendered he was enrolled in a Company of Militia as a private commanded by Capt. John Philips of the said town of Kinderhook—Philip Wolfrom and Fetta Landt of the same place were Lieutenants all of which officers he understands and believes to be dead. Philip Van Alstyne was Col. of the Regiment—he is also dead. That immediately upon his enrollment he received orders to be on constant readiness for active duty; and that in pursuance to such orders he was during the residue of the war prepared with arms and ammunition for active duty. That he was ordered and went to Caghuawaga on the Mohawk River and was in the Battle when Butler was killed. That at that time Philip Wolfrom & Fetta Landt aforesaid went as his officers. That he did duty also at Albany. That Capt. John Phillips commanded at that time. That he cannot tell how long he was at each of the above places.

That from his enrollment until the termination of the war he performed military duty for the United States upon different occasions above the times above specified. That the company to which he belonged was ordered to be in constant readiness. That he was called out every season very frequently, sometimes on scanty notice on alarms in pursuit of Robbers & to guard the country. That he was out sometimes one day, two days, sometimes more. That it is impossible for him to declare at this late day what the different days & times would amount to, but he has no doubt but he has been on active duty for more than six months. That he was liable to be called out & bound to military duty from the fall of 1777 until the close of the revolutionary war.

That he does not know that any of the officers under when he did duty are alive. That he is infirm [illegible] and he has been so for five or six years last past.

He hereby relinquishes every claim whatever to a pension or annuity except the present and declares that his name is not on the pension roll of the agency of any State.

Sworn to & subscribed the day & year aforesaid by making his mark here before me Dorrance Kirtland First Judge of Greene County State of New York

Peter X Wolf

And now John's deposition:

State of New York
Greene County SS

John Wolf of the town of New Baltimore in the County of Greene and State of New York being duly sworn saith, that he is aged between fifty eight and sixty years, that Peter Wolf in the annexed declaration mentioned is his brother, that during the revolutionary war this deponent was small, but yet very distinctly recollects that the said Peter was a great portion of the time from home during the said war, and it was then said in the family he had gone to the war. That from the end of the war it was always said in his father’s family and in the neighborhood in which they resided that the said Peter had done military service for the United States during the last four or five years of that war. That this deponent now resides near the said Peter, they resided there for the last twenty three years, and it has been during that time generally reported and believe in the neighborhood where the said Peter resides that he was a revolutionary soldier.

Sworn to & Subscribed this 31st day of September [sic] 1832 before me by making his mark he not being able to write his name Dorrance Kirtland First Judge of Greene County State New York

John X Wolf

And then Catherine Wolfrom–Wolf:

State of New York
Greene County SS

Catharine Wolf of the town of New Baltimore in the County of Greene and State of New York being duly sworn saith that she is the wife of Tunis Wolf, brother of Peter Wolf in the annexed declaration mentioned, that she was seventy one years old the 22nd day of March last past, that she lived at Kinderhook in the County of Columbia from before the Revolutionary war until about four or five years after the war, and then removed to the said town of New Baltimore then resided there ever since and in the neighborhood of the said Peter Wolf. That this deponent knew the said Peter well before the war, during the war then knew him ever since. That during the said war she resided a great portion of the time in the same family with the said Peter, and she recollects perfectly well that the said Peter, and she recollects perfectly well that the said Peter left home to do duty for the United States against the British and against the Tories & Indians. That this deponent assisted in preparing provisions & other necessaries for him, that the said Peter was from home on duty at different times but how long at each time she does not remember. That since the war it has always been reputed & believed that the said Peter was a revolutionary soldier.

Sworn to & Subscribed this 31st day of August 1832 by making her mark she not being able to write her name before me Dorrance Kirtland First Judge of Greene County State New York

Catharine X Wolf

If you're interested in learning more about the Revolutionary War, here are some good books to read:

Lancaster, Bruce. The American Revolution. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1987.

Middlekauf, Robert. The Glorious Cause. New York: The Oxford University Press, 1982.

Smith, Page. A New Age Begins: A People's History of the American Revolution, Volume 2. New York: Penguin Books, 1976.

Wilbur, C. Keith. The Revolutionary Soldier 1775-1783. Saybrook, CT: The Globe Pequot Press, 1993.

:  Bug, Debug <

This is a special section for those of you who noodle with computers. I have a 386–33 PC clone which I use to keep things organized and generate this newsletter. As far as I know, I am one of the first people to apply computer technology to genealogical research in the Albany area, and I think it’s safe to say I’m the first to apply it to Greene County. I can't imagine doing this without the help of a computer. I would be totally lost.

In the way of software, I use Word for Windows 2.0 and 6.0 to word process, and I use Family Origins for Windows 3.0 for managing our database, (which, after two years of research, has grown to @1,800 individuals). This is an excellent program from a little company in the midwest called Parsons Technology. Their prices are absurdly reasonable—comparable programs like Roots and Family Tree Maker either cost a bundle or don't have as many features. Family Origins comes up on the screen as a "tree," so you can see relationships right away.

If you’re on the Internet, you can e-mail me at I use the Internet to connect with other genealogists on the soc.roots newsgroup and to browse through the library catalogs (the NYS Library in Albany and the NY Public Library).

If you have questions about computer matters or want to trade info, please get in touch.


Here are some statistics culled from our database you might find interesting. These statistics apply to my generation.

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If the mortality averages worry you, please take into account that this also averages in infants, and the infant mortality rate in the last two centuries was fairly high, which brings the average down.


Have a question? Write me, and I’ll try to have an answer. All questions will be answered to the best of my ability, and I’ll fess up when I haven’t a clue.


Just wait, I’m sure there’ll be plenty.


P.O. Box 7356
Beverly Hills, CA 90212–7356